U2 PLAY IT SAFE

SFX react angrily to claims by a safety expert that plans to include standing areas at the gigs was a dangerous move...

SFX, the promoters behind U2’s upcoming 33-date US tour, have reacted angrily to claims by a safety expert that plans to include standing areas in the venues were courting disaster, saying the remarks were “irresponsible and… totally inaccurate”, NME.COM can exclusively reveal.

As reported previously on NME.COM (January 12), Paul Wertheimer, owner of Crowd Management Strategies, who produced a controversial report last year claiming that almost 70 people lost their lives at concerts in 1999, had said that U2’s plan to have “festival seating” – ie standing room in the centre of arenas – was “all about money, because more people can be stuffed into a space with no seats than with fixed seats”. He also evoked the ghost of the Roskilde Festival tragedy, in which nine fans were crushed to death as a result of a crowd surge during Pearl Jam’s performance, suggesting U2 should “think twice” about their decision.

Arthur Fogel, President of touring the SFX Group, released a terse statement to NME.COM saying simply: “We of course will adhere to all local regulations and provide a responsible and safe environment for all fans. Wertheimer’s statements are not only irresponsible but in fact totally inaccurate”.

A further, more detailed response is expected this afternoon (January 16).

U2 kick off the tour in Miami’s Ft. Lauderdale National Car Rental Centre on March 24.